When Osama, the crocodile, ate 83 people in Uganda

When Osama, the crocodile, ate 83 people in Uganda

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Osama, a crocodile that lived in Lake Victoria, used to be one of the deadliest man-eaters in the African nation of Uganda. The ferocious animal bore the name of the once-infamous terrorist Osama bin Laden. Between 1991 and 2005, Osama had eaten close to 83 people in the village of Luganga.

The crocodile had developed a fascination for human flesh. Measuring about 5 metres from snout to tail, it was responsible for wiping out 10% of the village’s population. It had spared none, be it a 12-year-old boy or an elderly man. Osama would carry children away from the shores when they came to fill their water buckets. It also swum beneath fishing boats, capsized them, and ate their occupants. At times, it would directly jump into wooden vessels to eat its prey.

Osama, now 75 years old, had an unabated reign of terror between 1991 and its eventual capture in 2005. In March that year, a group of Uganda Wildlife Authority officials and 50 odd locals captured the deadly animal in Southern Uganda, after using a pair of cow’s lungs as bait at its favourite hiding place (called The Butchery). The crocodile fell for the bait and found itself hanging from the tree by its jaws. The cow’s lungs had a copper snare, which tightly entangled its teeth.

The 50 men held onto the ropes and began to haul Osama, before finally handing it over to Uganda Cros Limited. It was a mountainous effort of 7 days and 7 days. It was then sent to captivity to be used as breeding stock for other crocodiles for fashion industries in Italy and South Korea. Osama had lost their appetite for human flesh and was seen nibbling on chicken flesh in captivity. Wildlife officials considered it shameful that Osama was being used as breeding stock.

The locals in the Luganga village believed that the man-eater got away too lightly. While speaking about Osama in 2005, Uganda Crocs proprietor Alex Mutamba said, “All Nile crocodiles like Osama will eat a human being if they perceive their territory is being encroached on. But our crocodiles are well-secured, so I’m not too worried.” Reportedly, Uganda Crocs houses nearly 5000 crocodiles where they are bred for later use in the handbag industry.

Hippo killed the owner who adopted it in 2011

In November 2011, 40-year-old Army Major Marius Els was killed by the 1.2-tonne hippo he had adopted and tried to domesticate on a farm in Free State province. The body of Els was found in a river with marks of being bitten by a huge animal several times, which he had earlier described as his son. Els’s body was found submerged in the river where he had rescued the hippo from a flood six years ago.

Els’s wife, Louise, a pharmacist, had expressed misgivings about the hippo as the giant animal had caused trouble before. Earlier in 2011, a 52-year-old man and his seven-year-old grandson had to climb and stay atop a tree for two hours after being chased by Humphrey. Similarly, Humphrey has also been accused of killing calves belonging to Els’s business partner. The animal also frequently broke out of its enclosure and chased golfers at a local golf club.

Els, who had also domesticated kept giraffe and rhino, claimed the sound of his voice would bring Humphrey back home. He regarded the hippo as “loveable” and a “gentle giant”. Except, years later, Humphrey mauled Els in the river on that fateful day and left him submerged in the water for several hours, causing his death. Though there were some bitten marks on Els’s body, the hippo had not eaten up the body after killing him, as was claimed by social media users.

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